Dahl-ish summer activities for families

Big Friendly Read

During my school days Roald Dahl’s books were virtually bibles, particularly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel. Later I literally could not put down the adult short story collections, which were turned into the disappointing Tales of the Unexpected TV series; the best pictures are the ones one makes in one’s head. Now I have bought most of his works for my own son, who loves them. They seem timeless.

Dahl came through some dreadful experiences, surviving schools where conditions were worse than prisons and then being shot down and injured as a World War 2 fighter pilot (I gather he was so tall he couldn’t really fit in a plane’s cockpit). One suspects he carried his trauma through the rest of his life. His injury dictated the way he wrote, in the famous writing shed.

Anyway, Dahl would have been 100 years old this year. Would he have produced more books had he lived longer? A planned further chocolate factory sequel was never finished. A series of events have been put in place, which started 16 July and will finish 3 September, building on Dahl’s legacy. There’s still plenty of time to get your kids involved.

‘The Big Friendly Read’ encourages children to take the challenge of reading six books from their local library over the summer holidays. Everyone who completes this will receive a medal, certificate and magic ‘Dahl’ glasses. To support this, a series of Dahl events (list below) will take place at Blackpool’s libraries. These include Wooden Spoons Theatre Company, local author and storyteller Dan Worsley on his ‘More Impossible Tales Library Tour’, Zoolab creepy-crawlies and creative workshops for all the family.

The council is really getting behind this, recognising the vital role that reading and literacy plays in life chances. Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Families with children of all ages can take part in a whole host of fun free events in August as part of the Summer Reading Challenge. Reading can have a huge impact on their language skills at a vital time in their life, which is why we are encouraging families to take their children to a library this summer.”

Dahl would have been so proud that his work continues to be loved and is being employed in this way. The books have plenty of references to reading’s importance and the Mike TV character in ‘chocolate factory’ is there to make this point.

In a way I’m glad that he doesn’t know about Minecraft, compulsive texting etc and kids not reading because it’s ‘uncool’. In the modern world it’s going to be being illiterate and having no imagination that will be ‘uncool’.

Here’s a summary of what is coming up:

  • ZooLab: Wednesday 3 August, Moor Park 10am and Layton 11.30am.
  • Wooden Spoons Theatre Company: Wednesday 24 August, Moor Park 10.30am, Boundary 1.30pm and Palatine 3pm.
  • Dan Worsley: Tuesday 16 August, Moor Park 11am and Revoe 2.30pm; Thursday 18 August, Layton 11am and Boundary 1.30pm.
  • Blackpool Family Learning Workshops: Tuesday 9 August, Palatine 10.30am and Central 2pm; Wednesday 10 August, Moor Park 10.30am and Anchorsholme 2.30pm.

For a full list of the activities visit the Blackpool Council website. All events are free to attend but booking is essential. Call 01253 478080 or your local Blackpool library.


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    I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

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